Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew

Mother Tongue

Written by Julie Mayhew
Illustrated by


Mother Tongue by Julie Mayhew

If you leave home, is your heart left behind? Darya Ivanova is looking forward to September. She has looked after her little sister, Nika, since she was a baby. Now Nika is starting school. Maybe Darya can find a job with her own tidy desk. Perhaps even a boyfriend. But when an unimaginable tragedy strikes, Darya's life plans are fractured. Stalled. She is afraid. What if she never knows real love? What if she never finds somewhere she belongs? If only she could get to Moscow. There, Darya could escape. There, she could become someone else . . . 'Magnificent' Independent on The Big Lie


Mayhew's most ambitious book to date * The Sunday Telegraph (Living) * This is a more ambitious book than Mayhew's previous novels... Chekhov for the terror age -- Emily Bearn * The Daily Telegraph (Review) * Where The Big Lie had you calling for revolution, Mother Tongue leaves you at lot more introspective, asking questions of how to define identity, home, and grief. Mayhew is a brilliant author, and I can't wait to see what comes next * Ruth Lily Writes * It's a beautiful story, about a world many of us will hopefully never come to know, but a venture all us have to go through, told in almost lyrical tones, that will leave you with a vice gripping your stomach, caring for a girl in a world very similar, but in many ways, very different, to your own * Something Like Lydia * Although it's classed as a young adult book, it's very much a universal story, dealing with love, identity and loss. You must read it * Berkhamstead Living * It's heartbreaking and affirming all at the same time, agonising and engaging, and a cracking good read. * Muddy Stilettos * Mother Tongue is a book that leaves you thinking about it long after you've finished reading it * Newbooks Magazine * Filled with references to Russian literature, culture and folklore, Mother Tongue is an evocative and troubling read, with a thought-provoking afterword about Mayhew's scruples in tackling a subject as tragic as Beslan in fiction * Financial Times (Life and Arts) * Mother Tongue is ultimately about grief, hope and love. It's about how on earth you survive when the worst happens, about how you can possibly find hope when humanity has displayed its most evil and terrible nature. It's about not being defined by the awful things that can happen, and about finding yourself amidst the debris of life. And it's a story that stays with you long after you finish reading -- Victoria Dilly * Reading Zone * As always her writing is beautiful, and the characters intricately drawn so you're really pulled into Darya's world and all the problems that come with it. And as always, although it's classed as a young adult book, it's very much a universal story, dealing with love, identity and loss. You must read it * Berkhamsted Living, * This beautifully written coming-of-age story (...) is a sensitive exploration of how trauma affects personal development * Inis Reading Guide * This is the best book I have read in 2016 (...) Mother Tongue seriously surpassed all my expectations and blew me away. From page one I was hooked and hanging out to know what would happen next (...) I instantly fell in love with the writing-style. Julie Mayhew certainly has a way with words. The descriptive language in Mother Tongue is just beautiful, and it was never overdone or overpowering. It felt like I was stepping into another world and that all the characters were real. Even though I've never been to Russia I felt like I could clearly visualise both Saratov and Moscow where the story takes place. (...) Not only is this a story about grief and loss, but it is also about finding your voice and yourself in the aftermath of tragedy (...) I really *really* loved this book (...) Mother Tongue is a raw, heartbreaking look at tragedy and its aftermath, but is also a story about hope - and one that you should definitely add to your to be read list * The World Around Me (Australia) *

About the Author

Julie Mayhew

Julie Mayhew writes plays for radio and the stage. Her short stories are published in the UK and the US, and she is working on a second novel. Julie grew up in Peterborough, studied Journalism at Bournemouth University and trained as an actress at Drama Studio London. She still acts (a bit), mostly for BBC Radio 4. Home is now Hertfordshire, where she lives with her husband and two young sons. Julie Mayhew was shortlisted for the Branford Boase Award in 2014 for her debut novel, RED INK. Her second novel, the critically acclaimed THE BIG LIE, was nominated for the CILIP Carnegie Medal, and shortlisted for Peters Book of the Year and Shropshire Teenage Book of the Year.

Photo credit: Chris Gloag

More books by this author

Other Formats

Book Info


304 pages


Julie Mayhew
More books by Julie Mayhew

Author's Website


Hot Key Books

Publication date

25th August 2016



Publisher Profile

Hot Key Books is an imprint of Hot Key

logo Hot Key Books, a division of Bonnier Publishing, publish stand out, quality fiction, for 9 – 19 year olds, print and digital that people like to talk about. If you are looking for something a little bit different from your books, something a little bit special then Hot Key Books may well have just what you want.

Publisher's Website

Publisher's Blog

It is fantastic, you get to read lots of books and you always find something new and amazing in them.

Erica Motoc, age 7

I am so pleased to have signed my kids up as they are reading a much wider range of books and even choosing books out of their comfort zone.

Angela East

We love Lovereading as my 5 year old loves to read new books before anyone else has a chance, she says it makes reading exciting!

Tracey Chorley

At @HHSHaringey we love @lovereading4kids because our pupils can practice reviewing & get free upcoming books before anyone else!

Helen Swinyard – Heartlands High

I think Lovereading4kids is an amazing company because of the friendly staff and the fabulous chance to read great books before publication.

Adam Graham

Love “Lovereading4kids” as my son gets to hear about & read new books before his mates which keeps him interested in reading=a very happy Mum

Liz Evans

It’s a community united by a passion for books and promoting the best there is in children’s literature.

Sam Bateman and family

It is THE website to use for narrowing down your search for any book. Definitely knocks the socks off any other book review website.

Nickey and Tomasz Hawryszczuk

Lovereading 4 schools